Today English football lost a legend with the sad news that World Cup winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks had passed away at the age of 81.
Banks began his career at Chesterfield before moving on to famous stints with first Leicester City and later Stoke City winning the League Cup with both clubs. But Banks will always be chiefly remembered for his England career. Banks made his debut in 1963 taking over from Ron Springett and quickly established himself as number one for new manager Alf Ramsey.
Banks was undisputed first choice at the 1966 World Cup and played his part in English football’s finest hour. He went on to play at Euro ’68 before heading to the 1970 World Cup where is stunning save from Pele cemented his place in legend. Banks was infamously a victim of food poisoning before the World Cup quarter-final and his understudy Peter Bonetti suffered a shocker in his place.
Banks’ career was cut short after a car accident in 1973 saw him lose his sight in one eye. Banks is widely regarded as England’s greatest ever goalkeeper and possibly the best the world has ever seen, often compared to Lev Yashin in the greatest ever debate. Banks was never a flashy goalkeeper often relying on excellent positional sense and safe handling, but despite being relatively short for a goalkeeper he had extraordinary agility as Pele found out that day in Mexico almost 50 years ago.
Away from football Banks was known as an incredibly grounded and pleasant man who always made time for fans, his last public engagement came at the draw ceremony for the World Cup in Moscow in December 2017. The game will always remember him and he will be greatly missed by fans around the World.